The country’s investment climate is the strongest in the region with foreign direct investment flowing in from markets in line with its economic blueprint. The East African economy recently held its inaugural Kenya International Investment Conference (KIICO) in Nairobi in a move to attract local and foreign investors.
“This KIICO 2014 is the first of its kind. I mean the country has held conferences that have discussed trade and investment before but this one is one with a difference. We have brought investors from all parts of the world and the last count I have is about 300 or more form different parts of the world form UK, China, Japan, Egypt, among others,” Moses Ikiara, the managing director at the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest ) told CNBC Africa.
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Built around agriculture, manufacturing, real estate and services, Kenya’s economy is diversified and advance compared to most in the region. Against this backdrop, the government is now preparing a national investment policy in order to lure investors to set up businesses or enter into partnerships with Kenyans in various sectors.
“What we have been trying to achieve in all this is basically to show what the country has to offer. We are having main slogans in the conference. One why Kenya, why should they come to Kenya? What we are saying is that it is a country of endless possibilities. The second clarion call is that there has never been a better time to invest in Kenya and East Africa than now,” Ikiara said.
The conference geared towards consolidating Kenya's position as East Africa's entry and main investment destination saw foreign attended interested in investment opportunities. Japan investors led by the Marubeni Corporation - a conglomerate firm focused on handling products and providing services- have shown interest in grasping opportunities in the country.
“So we are looking for investment opportunities in Kenya especially in energy sectors so today we had a very god presentation for the other speakers about the energy sector especially geothermal which we are very much interested in. Geothermal is kind of the new energy which attracts a lot of attention and also we would like to provide the equipment which is very specific and special in geothermal so we are very interested in going into geothermal,” Masanori Skanashi, Marubeni General Manager for East Africa said.
According to KenInvest, the conference attracted about 1,400 local and foreign investors.
Meanwhile, intra-EAC trade has grown tremendously having achieved significant milestones in ensuring the successful implementation of policies and programmes.
During KIICO, Richard Sezibera, Secretary General of the EAC said, “The EAC has had a customs union since 2005 and this customs union is working very well it has led to increased intra EAC trade among the partner states it has led to some cases the lowering of process in other cases the involvement of more businesses into the trading arrangement. We have started implementing single customs territory which is in many ways the completion of the customs union and so goods are moving more freely within the region.”